Pure Tension Pavilion

Synthesis Design + Architecture, Various locations, 2013


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Pure Tension Pavilion Photo Assembled 

Jason Gillette (website)     Download Original

  • Pure Tension Pavilion Photo Assembled    
  • Pure Tension Pavilion photo assembled    
  • Pure Tension Pavilion PV panelling    
  • Pure Tension Pavilion in Rimini    
  • Pure Tension in Rimini    
  • Pure Tension Pavilion in Rimini    
  • Pure Tension Mesh fabric and PV pattern    
  • Photovoltaic panels detail    
  • Drawings    
  • Drawing    
  • Solar Incidence Studies    
  • Perimeter Frame Rationalization Studies    
  • Structural Analysis by Buro Happold    
  • PV panel fabrication    
  • PV patterning fabrication    
  • Mesh and PV pattern assembly    
  • Zipping of mesh patterns    
  • Attaching mesh fabric to aluminum frame    
  • Pavilion fabrication Images    
  • PV pattern drawing    
  • perimeter aluminium frame drawing    
  • Mesh fabric pattern layout    

A portable, solar-powered tensile membrane structure for the Volvo V60 model that fits in the trunk of the car and assembles in less than one hour

The Pure Tension Pavilion is a portable, solar-powered tensile membrane structure commissioned by Volvo Car Italia for the new Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid electric car which not only charges the car but also flat-packs to fit in the trunk of the car and assembles in less than one hour. It is an experimental structure that, similar to a concept car, is a working prototype that speculates on the future of personal mobility and alternative energy sources while also exploring digital design methodologies and innovative structural solutions.

The pavilion is an expression of the tensioned equilibrium between its elastic membrane skin and rigid perimeter frame. The perimeter frame of the structure is defined by 24 CNC bent aluminum pipes with swaged slip fit connections, while the skin is materialized as a pair of vinyl encapsulated polyester mesh membranes with a zippered seam and spandex sleeves that wrap the frame. The entire pavilion collapses neatly into two 65”x15” x15” ‘B-cases’ and weighs 150lbs in total and can be assembled and taken down in just under an hour by a team of two to three people.

252 lightweight flexible photovoltaic panels are embedded within an applied graphic pattern of vinyl tiles along the mesh. The PV pattern is the result of intensive solar incidence analysis on the structure that found the average annual solar incidence of the skin for 360 degrees of orientation and mapped PV locations to the areas of greatest average annual solar incidence. Additionally a MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controller is utilized to sample the output of the cells, and selectively disable those that are not collecting enough energy, thereby ensuring that the pavilion is receiving as much charge as possible.

The pavilion can recharge a fully depleted car in about 12 hours in optimum sun conditions.


  • Begun: Aug 2013
  • Completed: Oct 2013
  • Floor area: 36m2
  • Sector: Transport
  • Total cost: £51,000
  • Funding: Volvo Car italia
  • Tender date: Jun 2013
  • Procurement: Traditional Contract
  • Address: Portable Solar-powered Pavilion, Various locations, Italy

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